The next-generation Playstation is finally here- if you were lucky enough to have managed to actually get your hands on Sony’s latest console. Although people are still finding it difficult to purchase the PS5, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the first few months of the console and what that next-gen experience currently feels like.
The PS5 is mostly marketed as a beast of a machine with instant load times, ray-tracing, up to 120 frames-per-second gameplay, and all whilst displaying in gorgeous HDR 4K. Whilst that is mostly true, the real next-gen feature is the new DuelSense controller. Haptic Feedback means I feel each step my character takes or a powerful spell blasting from their hands, and I can feel the tension of pulling a bow string or the kickback of a gun thanks to the Adaptive Triggers. The PS5 is less about what you see on screen but about how you feel when playing a game. Astro’s Playroom, a delightful platforming game built-in to the console, perfectly demonstrates the possibilities of what the DuelSense can do through fun sequences that never fail to make you smile. It comes as no surprise that Sony has made sure their exclusives make good use of the DuelSense’s capabilities – Demon’s Souls uses the Haptic Feedback for the swords clashing and spells whizzing by, and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales somewhat translates the web-slinging experience through the Adaptive Triggers – but thankfully there has been some third party support, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War making you feel resistance in the triggers when aiming and firing weapons.
Those next-gen experiences are quite limited so far though. There are only a handful of truly exclusive PS5 games, as most are cross-generation between PS4 and PS5, or are third party games. Truth be told, most of my time on the PS5 has been spent playing PS4 titles- but that isn’t exactly a bad thing. Thanks to the console’s extra horsepower, last-gen games play far better and smoother, with load times drastically improved and game performance massively increased. Games such as God of War and Days Gone have had dedicated patches that increase the frame rate to 60fps, whilst other titles such as Final Fantasy XV and Assassins Creed: Unity run unlocked but generally hit that 60fps mark. I’ve personally been playing through Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Bloodborne again: Sekiro’s combat and movement is even more phenomenal thanks to the boost to 60fps, and whilst Bloodborne hasn’t seen any frame increases (please From Software, please give us that patch) the load times are far more forgiving on PS5 after dying and losing all of your blood echoes.
Outside of the gameplay experience itself, the PS5 UI and general user experience is mostly an improvement over the PS4. The Control Centre, a pop-up menu accessed with a press of the PS button, is rather intuitive and useful, best used for starting parties with friends and accessing settings for headsets. I just wish you could customise the Control Centre more, as currently you can only add or remove settings for a handful of minor features. The home menu is functionally very similar to that of the PS4, but notably the PS Store is built into the home menu now. This is a huge improvement over the store being an agonisingly slow, separate app on the PS4, but the store itself has been redesigned in such a way that it’s extremely difficult to find demos and just about anything that isn’t a new AAA release.
What Sony really needs to work on, however, is the storage issue. As amazing as the SSD is, the 667GB storage is far too small when most games nowadays require 50 to 100GB of space. There has since been an update where PS5 games can finally be moved onto external hard drives, but we’re still waiting on a proper solution in the form of an internal SSD storage expansion that has yet to be officially revealed. Personally I haven’t had too many PS5 games installed to worry about the issue too much as the price point is another issue. With all the politics surrounding it aside, the £70 price tag for new first party exclusives is a lot, especially when other games are still releasing for £50 or £60, and will definitely put gamers off from buying those games at launch.
It’s a somewhat quiet evolution with the PS5: the exclusives sure are pretty but they don’t have that wow factor that usually comes with a generational leap. I would of course have loved to have seen more games built for this generation from the ground up, but it’s still the early days for the PS5 and those experiences so far have been amazing thanks to the DuelSense. While we wait for the likes of Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Horizon: Forbidden West and the God of War sequel to arrive, I’m more than happy revisiting my favourite games, and playing titles I haven’t yet experienced, from the PS4 catalogue on the more powerful PS5. Play does have its limits on the PS5 right now, but that looks to hopefully change in the future.